Tag Archives: Container Gardening

Vertical Garden

All About Vertical Gardening: What is Vertical Gardening?

Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – gardening on a vertical, rather than a horizontal, surface. Vertical gardening can be accomplished in two major ways. First, many vertical gardens take advantage of the tendencies of some plants to grow up rather than out. But the effort is not just limited to plants that naturally grow up. Any plant that produces a vine can be “trained” to grow vertically with just a little extra attention.

Of course, your vertical garden won’t just be vining plants. Nearly any kind of plant can be grown on a vertical surface – just mount growing containers on a wall or other vertical surface. You can also use a framework that allows growing containers to be stacked from bottom to top.

The beauty of vertical gardening lies in several facets

1 — GOING UP: First, growing vegetables and other plants “up” instead of “out” saves space. That makes vertical gardening a perfect alternative for people with limited space or who are growing in urban environments.

2 — EASY TO PULL: Vertical growing makes vegetables easier to harvest. If your beans are growing at waist height rather than at ankle level, then you’re going to benefit. It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone would prefer reaching out to harvest rather than bending over

3 — GETTING AIR: Vertical gardening gives plants better air exposure through increased surface area. This leads to healthier – and therefore more productive – plants.

4 — PEST PROBLEMS? Growing plants vertically reduces the danger of soil-borne diseases, molds and crawling pests.

5 — THE SPACE IS THERE: Nearly any vertical surface or structure can be used to support your plants – walls, posts, trellises, frames made from wood or PVC pipe, old shipping pallets, or even other vertically growing plants like trees. You’ll also find that you’ll save money on materials such as fencing, gardening soil and mulch.

Planning

How To Plan and Plant Your Vertical Garden

Planning your Vertical Garden is different from planning a traditional garden, but shouldn’t be done with any less care.

Step One: Consider the location of your Vertical Garden

Ideally, vegetable plants in your Vertical Garden should get at least six hours of sustained sunlight a day. Pick a spot that will allow for maximum sun while minimizing filtered light through trees. If a large wall on the side of your house gets the best light, that’s a perfect spot to consider. Even well-lit balconies and porches will work. If it’s available, a south-facing location is the best.

A wonderful aspect of vertical gardening is choosing a location. You’re not as limited by space as you would be with a traditional garden. In fact, you’ll probably find that you have an abundance of available space to grow up rather than out. Remember that an area as small as an apartment balcony can serve as an excellent vertical gardening spot. Just a few containers and trellis supports will do the trick.

Step Two: Where’s the Water?

As with any vegetable garden, make sure that wherever you choose to place it is close to a convenient source of water. Ideally, your Vertical Garden can be reached by a garden hose.

Step Three: Soil for your Vertical Garden

Depending on your space, you’ll want to decide whether to plant your vegetables in soil at the base of your growing area or use containers. In either case, use a good gardening soil.  Augment it with rich compost to provide the nutrients your plants will need.

Step Four: Plant Choices

Carefully consider what you’re planning to grow in your Vertical Garden. Naturally vining vegetables are perfect, of course. However, don’t rule out other vegetables and herbs that grow closer to the ground. While vining plants will likely require a trellis or some other form of support, those that don’t vine can be planted in nearly anything that you can hang or mount on a vertical surface.

Step Five: Follow the Plan

Plant seeds just as you would in a traditional gardening. Take care to leave enough space according to the planting instructions. When planting vegetables that will need a support structure, don’t forget to install the supports at the same time you plant. Adding supports after the plants have sprouted can damage the young root systems.

Step Six: Training

As your vining plants sprout and mature, “train” them to grow upward. Simply manually thread the young vines up through the support system. This is an ongoing process and should be part of your regular Vertical Garden upkeep.

Shopping list

All About Vertical Gardening: Shopping List for Creating a Vertical Garden

Your vertical gardening shopping list, at first glance, will be very similar to that of a traditional horizontal garden, but there are some very important things to consider.

First, will you start your plants in the ground – such as in a small plot against your house – or will you use containers? By using containers for your vertical garden, you give yourself the ability to grow in unusual places such as apartment balconies.

Also, you’ll need to consider what sort of support you’ll need for the types of vegetables you intend to plant.

Here’s your Vertical Garden shopping list

  • Containers (if needed) – These can be as utilitarian as plastic storage bins or as decorative as galvanized steel tubs or traditional large planters. Just make sure you have or make holes in the bottom to allow for drainage of excess water.
  • Garden soil
  • Compost (to augment garden soil, if needed)
  • Support structure materials, which can include …
  • Trellis (wooden, bamboo, plastic or fabric, depending on your garden)
  • Wire fencing
  • Stakes
  • Natural twine
  • Tomato cages
  • Garden ties (to help secure vining plants to the support structure)
  • Seeds or seedlings (Where would your vertical garden be without them?)
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can (if your garden is on an apartment balcony or not near a water source)
  • Insect killer or repellent
  • Fungicide
Vegetables to use

All About Vertical Gardening: Vegetables to Use in Vertical Gardening

Just because you’ve decided to try out vertical gardening doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow most – if not all – the vegetables you’re used to growing in a traditional garden.

However, those vegetables that will naturally grow vertically by extending vines that attach to a supporting structure are naturally most conducive to vertical gardening. They include:

  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Melons

While all of these plants vine, not all will naturally grow up. Cucumbers and squash, for instance, will take some training on your part. This is as simple as threading new tendrils through your supporting structure to give them the chance to attach.

But suppose you’d like to include non-vining vegetables in your vertical garden? It’s not in any way out of the question, but will require that you rework your thinking on how your new garden is arranged.

What are the changes?

Home stores and garden supply companies have, in recent years, designed a number of products to help with this. They are typically shelf-type planters meant to be placed against an exterior wall, but nearly any container that can be adapted for vertical gardening use can serve as a great planter – old rain gutters, suspended two-liter soda bottles and shipping pallets can all be used. The options are limitless!

The plants that work best in this sort of vertical gardening arrangement are the non-climbing varieties, such as:

  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes (regular or sweet)
  • Herbs

Just remember that soil depths and planting conditions – particularly for in-ground specialists like potatoes – should conform as closely to horizontal as possible horizontal conditions when planted in a vertical garden.

Planting and harvesting

All About Vertical Gardening: Planting and Harvesting Your Vertical Garden

When it comes to planting and harvesting, there are very few differences between horizontal and vertical gardening.

Before you plant

Whether you’re using a container or a strip of ground, the best place to start is by making sure you have soil conducive to growth. If you’re using containers, start with a good, nutrient-rich gardening soil from the gardening or home supply store.

Planting in the ground first? Start by creating a pit between 6 inches and a foot deep for each spot where you’ll be planting. The depth varies on the root system of the plant, of course. Take the soil you removed and create a half-and-half mix with compost, then refill the pit.

If you haven’t already decided what will go where in your vertical garden, this is good time to do so. Make sure to install all support structures for vining plants at this point. Doing so after you plant can damage the root systems of seedlings or mature plants. Make sure the structure is positioned over where you will plant to give the tendrils and vines the best chance to take hold.

Planting your vertical garden

Now it’s time to plant, following the package directions on your fruits or vegetables of choice. While you’ll ultimately be responsible for making sure the garden gets enough water, it never hurts to plant during a rainy period to ensure adequate moisture. Stick to about four seeds per planting area to avoid overcrowding; then water gently. As the seedlings emerge and get to about 4 inches high, you’ll want to thin them to ensure they don’t crowd each other out.

Check on your plants every day so you can monitor moisture and thread new tendrils or vines upward through your support structure. Some heavier vines might require a little extra help, so don’t be reluctant to use a natural twine or garden ties to secure them to the supports. Water as needed – especially until the plants are fully established – and check for disease growth and pests.

Harvesting

Once your vegetables or fruits have matured, harvest them as you normally would for each individual variety. Do take special care not to yank down your support structures in the process. A simple pair of garden shears will help you cut from the vine – rather than pull – heavy items like melons or squash.

For non-vining plants, there should be very few differences from traditional harvesting. Just take care to avoid significantly disturbing the soil, neighboring plants and the vertical structure itself.

Disease, cucumber plant.

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Disease

Since vertical gardens grow up rather than along the ground, the risk of disease is significantly reduced with limited contact with the soil.

However, that doesn’t mean your plants will be disease free in a vertical garden.

As with any type of gardening, the first step to avoiding disease is the quality of the soil. If this is the first season for your vertical garden, make sure you start with soil from an area from which all weeds have been removed and the soil has been vigorously turned and mixed with clean compost. For an existing vertical garden, you’ll still want to weed and augment your soil with compost, but also make sure you have rotated your crops from their planting locations the previous year.

Plants such as squash, cucumber and peas are highly susceptible to disease when planted in the same spot as the previous year.

Two common diseases that affect vertical gardens

  • Anthracnose: This fungus most often affects cucumbers, watermelons and muskmelons, and is most prevalent during warm, humid conditions. To protect your plants, rotate crops annually, leave enough space between plants to let leaves dry out as quickly as possible and promptly remove/destroy affected leaves and fruit to prevent spreading. To help prevent or eliminate anthracnose, use Safer®Brand Garden Fungicide or Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray, which acts as a fungicide, insecticide and miticide. Both are OMRI Listed® and compliant for use in organic gardening.
  • Bacterial wilt: This disease is indicated by vines that wilt in the day but recover at night. Try to purchase disease resistant species and watch for cucumber beetles, which spread the disease.
Pests

All About Vertical Gardening: Protecting Vertical Gardens from Pests

One great advantage of having a vertical garden is the limited exposure to soil-dwelling pests. Your vertical garden has less direct contact to the ground, after all. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to pest control – it will still be an issue.

Any insect or other critter that could infest your traditional horizontal garden can still gain access to your vertical garden, particularly if you’re using an in-ground plot for planting. Keep in mind that many notorious garden pests begin to fly at later life stages. They’re happy to leave eggs on your eggplant or helping the kids to gorge on your green beans.

To limit the potential destruction by garden pests, you’ll want to take many of the same measures you would to limit disease – clear yard debris from your planting areas, make sure to rotate crops, and use well-turned soil that’s been fortified with clean compost.

Still, you might find pests worm their way into your vertical garden.

Two vertical garden pests

  • Squash bug: Squash bugs are gray or brown and prefer pumpkins and squash, typically toward the end of the growing season. Rotating crops and cleaning fall debris will help discourage them come planting season. During growing season, check the undersides of leaves for egg masses and destroy any that you find.
  • Cucumber beetle: Usually black or yellow spotted or striped, these critters love your cucumbers. Larvae go after the roots while the adults gnaw on leaves, so your attack should be two-pronged as well. Products such as Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray can help discourage both from overtaking your garden in either stage. A floating row cover will help protect from beetles in their flying stage.
Chrysanthemum

Top 10 Indoor Plants

If you love your foliage and are stuck inside because of the cold, don’t worry, you can still have your plants and grow them too!

Here is a list of the top 10 indoor plants to help you get through the cold winter months.

1. Peace lily – This is a great indoor plant that is small enough to be placed on your table top or anywhere you like. It has long stems and elegant white flowers, perfect for any décor!

2. Philodendron – If you’re thumb isn’t the greenest, this average sized plant is perfect foryou! It requires little light and works well in hallways or darker areas.

3. Weeping fig – This is one tough little tree, but great for indoors. Its leaves are small and shiny and is sometimes available in other forms such as a ‘lollipop’ tree.

4. Dracaena ‘Happy Plant’ – This plant needs moderate watering and does best in spaces with medium light.

5. Syngonium – Not keen on bugs, consider this insect resistant plant! The Syngonium loves humidity and loves to be misted regularly.

6. Silver queen (a.k.a. Chinese evergreen) – Very attractive indoor plant that normally runs on the small side, enjoys a mild climate and does well in low light.

7. Lady palm – This plant sounds high maintenance, but you’ll be surprised! Keep it watered and out of direct light, and its happy. Keep in mind it grows very slow and can be quite pricey.

8. Stromanthe – Double your pleasure with this gorgeous mult-color plant. The leaves are a deep green and underneath present a rich purple hue. This plant loves bright light and misting.

9. Rubber plant – This plant is great for households that might have children eager to touch plants and explore. It is bred for toughness and survives in low light. It tends to grow on the large size and is content in a dry environment.

10. Kentia palm – Very elegant, and quite tall, this plant has feather-like fronds and survives in low light as well as brighter areas.

6000-SM_1

Don’t Let Your Plants Get Thirsty…

Do you have problems keeping your house plants watered?  Not sure what to do with your house plants when you are on vacation?

Now on sale, the CobraCo® Plant Sitter™ Water System is a patented automatic watering system that provides a healthy well-balanced diet of water & fertilizer for your plants.  Includes a 1 quart tank and ceramic sensor and fits almost any planter.

The CobraCo® Plant Sitter™ provides drip irrigation for a houseplant up to 3 weeks, so it’s ideal for when you are away from home on vacation. This patented automatic watering system includes replacement sensors. And right now you can save $10 with your purchase.

Balcony Gardening

Plants can add privacy and add a design touch all your own to a balcony no matter how large or small.

You can use plants to create some screening between you and the rest of the world without taking up precious floor space.

If you have a balcony, you can introduce trailing foliage in railing and horse trough planters along the railing.  If feasible, fill hanging baskets with cascading foliage and trailing plants, then suspend them from a ceiling or building facade.

All natural coco liners used with wire and metal planters, stands and hanging baskets exhibit a lighter, open design style that fits well into a smaller space while the rich, Continue reading